Author's Note: So after some writer's block, several false starts, and one computer crash, here's the sequel to Little Talks - finally! There are a lot of things I want to incorporate in this story, so it'll most likely be longer than its predecessor. Also, I'm undecided on whether or not to make this story MA - I've been thinking about it, but I don't want to drive anyone away from the story with explicit content, so I'd really appreciate it if you guys would let me know if that would bother you or keep you from reading. And one last thing - I am absolutely NOT a computer person, so pretty much all of the computer talk/stuff in this story is made up. Use your imagination. :)
Disclaimer: if you recognize them, they're not mine.
She needs coffee; more coffee, and then maybe a little more … lots of coffee. She hasn't had enough coffee. The problem is that she's at work, and while Queen Consolidated may be a powerhouse in the corporate world – which it still is, minus a few bumps in the road after the discovery of Moira's part in Merlyn's scheme – the one thing that the big QC does skimp on is coffee. They probably buy in bulk, which she can't really fault them for since they employ so many people, but if there is one thing she is an admitted snob about it's coffee; there is no way she's going to let that swill pass her lips, no matter how desperate for java may be. Unfortunately, Felicity thinks that she passed desperate about an hour ago.
She's pretty certain that her fellow employees at Queen Consolidated got together over the weekend and devised a heinous plot to crash the company servers just to screw with her workload, because her phone has been ringing non-stop since the moment she arrived – twenty minutes early, no less – this morning. In fact, things are such a mess for her department right now that she's currently making her way down one of the long office hallways and to the office of the Chief Information Officer because said officer had tried all of the usual tricks and then called Felicity, exasperated and threatening to throw the computer out of the window. Felicity hadn't known whether to laugh or be horrified. She's never met the CIO before, has never even had cause to run into her in passing in the hallways, but if the phone call had been anything to go by then Felicity thinks that the woman must have at least some semblance of a sense of humor. Which she hopes will turn out to be true, because Felicity really doesn't like dealing with people who are both powerful and humorless – it just isn't a good combination.
Felicity is well known and easily recognizable to her fellow employees, partly because her department is the one they always call with their computer problems, and partly because she's the only member of the IT department who's remotely social with her coworkers; networking is useful in places outside the internet, too. That familiarity means that trying to make her way quickly across the floor can be something of a feat sometimes, because she's bound to run into people who want to chat and ask her about her weekend, which she wouldn't mind doing if it wasn't the CIO of the company waiting on her. She calls out a few hellos as she goes and promises a few people to swing by for a quick chat once she's done with her errand. She's been rather busy lately – busier than usual, even – so she hasn't been out to visit with her work friends in awhile, and it'll be nice to catch up with them. Maybe, if she gets really lucky and the day takes a swing in the right direction, she'll even be able to slip out for a minute after all this and hit up the coffee shop down the street for another java fix.
She slows from her speed walk into a gait that looks – and feels – only slightly slower as she approaches the CIO's secretary.
"Hi, I'm Felicity Smoak," she says, smiling as she approaches. "From the IT department, I'm …"
The woman behind the desk smiles and waves her toward the door. "Ms. Edge is expecting you – I don't think she's tossed the computer yet."
"Well let's hope not, or I just gave myself shin splints for nothing."
Felicity hears the secretary – she'll have to stop and get her name on the way out – chuckle as she pauses to knock on the door and then let herself in when a voice calls for her to enter.
"Ms. Edge?" Felicity asks as she steps into the office.
"Technology hates me," a disgruntled voice answers.
Felicity smiles automatically in response, because the other woman sounds like she really believes that statement. Ms. Edge – Felicity isn't sure, but she thinks her first name is Alicia – is standing behind her office chair, both elbows resting against the black leather, and massaging her temples. She doesn't look much older than Felicity, maybe only ten or twelve years, and though her hair and dark blue suit scream of professionalism there is an openness to her expression that makes her seem friendly rather than menacing. Felicity takes in all this information in the time it takes her to cross the room to stand next to the other woman.
"No it doesn't," she assures the other woman. "Sometimes the computers just get a little moody. Do you mind?"
"Work your magic."
Ms. Edge steps away from her chair and over to a small table against the wall that looks to hold coffee mugs and several boxes. Felicity drops into the chair – and damn is it comfortable – and her fingers immediately start clacking away at the keys, filling the silence in the room with a steady drumming.
"Can I get you anything?" the CIO offers after a few minutes. "Water? Tea?"
The offer catches Felicity off guard, because this is one of the company big wigs and she's just a computer grunt, but when she glances at the woman who is technically one of her bosses all she sees is an earnest expression and a bit of a smile.
"Uh, you wouldn't happen to have something that qualifies as real coffee, would you? Not that I'm complaining about the company coffee, of course, because that's not what I meant, it's just …" she's rambling before she can stop herself.
"Shit," Ms. Edge cuts in, smiling wider now.
"Shit – the company coffee is shit," she says knowingly. "I have a French press and some dark Colombian coffee, if you've got a minute."
"Ms. Edge, you've just become my favorite person."
She laughs. "Please, call me Alicia. Real coffee, coming right up."
Now the sounds of Felicity's typing is accompanied by the sound of Alicia preparing coffee, and it's only a few minutes later that the roomy office is filled with the tantalizing smell of fresh coffee. Felicity finishes restoring the last of the computer's settings and turns to stand just in time to see Alicia headed her way with two coffee mugs.
"Keep your seat," Alicia tells her, setting one of the mugs down on the desk in front of Felicity.
"Where are you gonna sit?" Felicity queries.
Alicia just smiles and sets down her mug before sliding – rather gracefully, Felicity notices – up onto her desk. "Don't tell," she commands, but her tone is teasing.
"Secret's safe with me," Felicity assures her as she picks up the coffee mug.
She fully anticipates singeing at least half of her taste buds because she's too impatient to wait for it to cool before taking a drink, and though it's still on the overly warm side there is no singeing. Felicity sighs happily, because not only are her taste buds safe, but also this coffee is ridiculously delicious.
"This is exactly what I needed, Alicia, thank you."
"Your computer's fixed, too; just needed to restore a few settings."
"So no flying lessons for it today, then. Too bad, I was kinda looking forward to watching it fall."
Felicity laughs. The two women continue to talk as they enjoy their coffee, establishing a relationship that's closer to a friendship than an acquaintance, which is kinda surprising because they've only just met. Felicity really likes Alicia, though, with her honest face and sharp suit and ready smile. They talk and laugh around their coffee for long minutes, until their mugs are empty and Felicity realizes that she's been here for longer than she should have been and people are probably looking for her to fix their computers. When she thanks Alicia and goes to excuse herself, the CIO insists on refilling her mug with the rest of the coffee and telling her to bring the mug back tomorrow morning for a refill. Pleasantly surprised with the events of the last hour, Felicity lets herself out of the office with a smile.
"Well, I didn't hear any shattering glass," Alicia's secretary says when Felicity is close enough.
"Nope. Crisis averted. I'm Felicity, by the way; sorry I couldn't introduce myself properly earlier."
"Don't worry about it. I'm Genevieve, but most people call me Vivi."
As much as Felicity would like to stay and talk – and she really would, because Vivi seems as amiable as her boss – she really does need to finish making her rounds before someone actually does toss a computer out a window, so she politely excuses herself and steps back out into the hustle and bustle of Queen Consolidated.
Most of her day passes this way. She's stopped by several people on her rounds who need help resolving little issues, and a few that are having problems communicating with the company servers; Felicity helps them all with patience and a smile, drinking her coffee as she goes. Some of the people she's known for awhile stop her just to say hi and ask how she's doing, and since she's out in the open now and can be found she allows herself to mingle without worrying about having somewhere else to be.
By the time she finally makes it back to her office it's nearly one in the afternoon and her stomach is angrily demanding some kind of sustenance. She sets her mug-that-isn't-quite-hers on the corner of her desk and retrieves her lunch pail; she has a chicken salad and sweet tea today, and she's just barely set both out on her desk when her phone rings. She groans and shoots a glare at the thing before picking it up with a friendly greeting that is in direct opposition to her hunger induced irritation. Luckily it's just someone with a connectivity issue, easily fixed in just a few seconds over the phone, and she's once again focused on her salad.
Only now, alone in her office amidst the familiar whir of her computers and servers, does Felicity allow herself to relax; only now does she allow her thoughts to turn to things that aren't work related – like her new duplex. She'd only moved in two weeks ago and at least half of her stuff is still packed in boxes stacked at random intervals through the rooms, but she already loves it there. It's bigger than her old apartment, newer, and she's paying the same price as she had for the other one. There's also the added bonus of it being a duplex and not an apartment in an apartment building, which is great because it allows for a little more privacy – something that is necessary when you're trying to keep your relationship with your boss slash vigilante-with-a-playboy-cover boyfriend a secret.
Things with her and Oliver had really only changed a little more than a month ago, so things are still new and they haven't quite figured out how this aspect of their relationship will affect all the facets of their lives, including the ones they're trying to keep secret – like their "extracurricular" activities in the arrow cave. Felicity isn't really sure if Digg knows, because she certainly hasn't told him and she doesn't really think Oliver is the type to bring up those sorts of things in casual conversation. Then again, she's not really even sure Oliver has casual conversations with Digg – although she assumes he must. At any rate, she's still enjoying the newness of a relationship that she never really thought would happen, and she doesn't mind if the knowledge stays just between her and Oliver for a little while longer. They'll have to let the cat out of the bagger sooner or later, of course, and while she can't predict how much backlash - or what kind - she's in for, she knows that it's coming; she doesn't have to invite it in yet, however, and she doesn't plan to. Both she and Oliver were aware when they started this relationship that it would be complicated, and they both agreed now that it couldn't hurt to hold off those complications for as long as they could while they got to know each other as something more than friends.
Even the impending obstacles and backlash couldn't do much to tame the butterflies, though; any time her thoughts strayed, even for a second, into the territory of Oliver, her chest would start to feel both light and full, as if she were a balloon being filled to maximum capacity and straining to be released into the sky. The idea that they were something more was almost to much for her mind to grasp, and then it would occur to her (again, as if it was a completely new realization) that she was now free to kiss him, to hold his hand, and she'd have to remind herself that she could not bunny hop excitedly in public. Which is why she doesn't allow herself to think about their relationship in public anymore.
She's just finished her salad and is enjoying the last of her tea when her desk phone rings again. She makes a face at the offending item, as if it is solely responsible for the day's computer issues, and then answers it with her usual polite business greeting.
Felicity's heart starts beating double time when the voice on the other line identifies as Oliver's secretary and half-asks, half-commands her to report to the CEO's office because his computer has 'gone on the fritz and Mr. Queen needs it for his meeting." She manages to answer, although she has no idea what she actually says, and by the time she hangs up the phone she thinks her face is fuchsia because she's blushing so fiercely. They haven't been avoiding each other at work, but this will be the first time that they've really been around each other in the workplace since becoming ... well, she supposes significant others is the correct term, but it sounds so ... strange. Then again, calling Oliver her significant other is more acceptable than 'boyfriend' - she doesn't know why, but that word sounds strangely juvenile and insignificant, especially in reference to Oliver.
Enough of that, she tells herself, you've got work to do.
She moves through the company halls with the same quickness she'd shown on the way to Alicia's office, and she's actually grateful for the physical exertion. By the time she's rounding the corner to Oliver's office, which is all glass walls and minimalist furniture, she feels like the floating feeling in her chest has lessened enough to be more of a nuisance than a hindrance.
Oliver's secretary waves her in, and Felicity is already pushing the glass door open when she realizes that Oliver is in a meeting that very moment, and that it's taking place in his office. Surprised, she falters in the doorway for one long moment before Oliver glances away from the two men in front of her and gives her the tiniest smile. Ridiculously enough, that tiny smile makes her feel like her insides are being attacked by vicious butterflies.
She's crossing the room toward his desk, face calm and impassive (she hopes), and hears him excuse himself to his guests before addressing her.
"Ms. Smoak, thank you for coming so quickly."
"Of course, Mr. Queen. What seems to be the problem?"
He explains the problem and her brain automatically switches into what Kylie likes to call 'techno-geek' mode. When she politely tells him that he's sort of in her way he immediately excuses himself and sweeps out of his chair, motioning for her to have a seat instead. Her fingers are already flying across the keyboard when the conversation picks back up, and it takes her a long time to realize that Oliver hasn't moved: he's still standing on her left, out of the way of the computer, and he has one elbow braced against the back of the chair. She wonders, briefly, why he didn't just have another chair brought in - or, better yet, move their discussion to the couches in front of the windows. She can't be sure but it sounds like they're talking money and investments, so maybe he thought the couches would be too informal. Either way, she works a little faster.
Well, she tries anyway; for whatever reason, the computer has stopped talking to the company servers and no longer recognizes them as a secure and trusted network, so it's locked out more than half of the executive files as a safety precaution. Felicity had designed the program herself, so she knows how to reset and unlock everything, but it's going to take longer than she wants and there's no way to implement a temporary work around to get Oliver through the rest of his meeting.
Well, there is one last thing she can try.
"Excuse me. Mr. Queen," she interrupts. "May I use your phone?"
She calls her counterpart - one of the only other IT workers on shift with her today - and almost groans aloud when Eric Pyper answers the phone. Felicity doesn't have the best relationship with Eric, who is several years older than her and one of the most abrasive people she's ever met. He's decent with computers, although he has to work harder at it than she does; he seems to not only realize this, but hold it against her. Their interactions are generally limited, but what few they do have are in no way pleasant. Hell, they barely manage to remain civil. This is not going to be fun.
She very calmly tells him who he's talking to, and as soon as she's said her name she can almost feel the change in his demeanor over the phone. Why is this happening to her?
Softly, so that she doesn't interrupt Oliver - and also so they don't overhear her - she explains the situation and what she wants to do. Eric, of course, sounds nothing less than irritated; she makes sure to mention that it's for the CEO and that seems to make him cooperate, at least.
"Did you reset it?" she asks when he tells her he's done.
"You have to reset it to make sure it worked."
"No you don't."
She inhales deeply to keep herself from rolling her eyes. "Yes, Eric, you do."
"If I reset then it's gonna take at least five minutes to restart and reinstall. The work day is almost over, just wait and do it after hours."
"Did you miss the part where I said this is Mr. Queen's computer?" she bites out, irritated and maybe a little more sarcastic than she intended.
Oh, she is so not fighting him on this right now! Of all the times for him to be a disagreeable asshole ... "Eric! Reset the damn server!"
She's trying to sound as forceful as she can without actually raising her voice, but she's so frustrated that she's practically hissing the words into the handset. When she hears Eric mumble a grudging, "fine, it's reset", she barely manages to bite out a thank you before hanging up. She doesn't intend to look up, but when she does she realizes that she's alone in the office; Oliver and the other two gentleman are nowhere to be seen. She feels both relieved and a little perturbed at knowing that Oliver's meeting may have been cut short because of a computer error, but there's nothing else she could have done about it. Sometimes computers have a mind of their own.
The system has rebooted and she's hard at work making sure everything is set up the way it needs to be when she catches movement out of the corner of her eye; Oliver has reappeared and is already halfway across the room, headed right for her.
"Sorry about your meeting," she tells him, glancing away from the computer as she does so.
"Don't be, it went well."
She's not really paying attention when he comes to stand next to her, putting his back to the door and leaning against the edge of the desk. In fact, it takes her a good minute to realize that he's watching her.
"What?" she queries, suddenly self conscious.
"You left your hair down."
Felicity doesn't know what to say to that, partly because she'd forgotten that it wasn't in a ponytail, and partly because it hadn't occurred to her that Oliver might notice.
She shrugs. "Didn't feel like putting it up this morning."
"It looks good," he says after a long silence. "You look good. Beautiful."
He stumbles a little over the last bit, as if he's unsure of himself - or whether or not he should anything - and Felicity has to remind herself that there's every possibility that he's just as nervous about their relationship as she is. Sure, he's dated since he's been back from the island, but two of the three women he's been with were people he'd known previously and one had been ... well, Helena. Felicity is the first woman that Oliver has dated who not only knows his secret, but doesn't look at him and expect to see some trace of a man from almost a decade ago. So yeah, maybe he's just as nervous as she is, and maybe she finds that just a little endearing.
"Thank you," she answers gently, deciding against pointing out that (besides her hair) she looks the same as she always does. "Your computer should be fixed now."
He looks away from her - because he's been watching her this whole time, and that gives her a serious case of butterflies - and she can see the business mask slip back into place. The change isn't complete, at least not in her eyes, because Felicity thinks she might have a PhD in reading Oliver's face and body language; still, she knows that it's time to get back to business for now.
"Call if you have any more problems," she tells him, standing and giving him back his chair.
"I will. Thank you."
When she gets back to her office, Felicity is relieved to find that her work day is almost over. In fact, she only receives two more calls before the clock is telling her that it's time to pack up and go home. Well, in her case, it's telling her it's time to go to the foundry, but that place is really sort of a second home to her now anyway.
She arrives first, which isn't a surprise since she knows that Digg won't arrive until right before Oliver does. She keeps herself busy scanning the news and police channels, looking for anything that sends up a red flag. She's always done this sort of information gathering, but she'd be lying if she didn't admit to a certain sense of hyper-vigilance these days; while he has apparently decided to leave her alone, the man calling himself Lord Tennyson is still loose somewhere in the world, and she doesn't think anything will make her forget that. They don't have much information to go on - in fact, they've got practically nothing, and yet she always finds herself holding her breath just a little when she learns of any type of break-in or attack that seems remotely similar to her own. She tells Oliver and Digg that she's doing better, and that's not a lie, but she'll never have that naivety again now that she knows she can't hide behind that excuse of "that won't happen to me". Now, she has vigilance.
Digg arrives first, as she expected, and they talk for a little while about trivial things while the police scanner drones on in the background. She enjoys hearing about Digg and Carly and she's made some pretty good headway with getting him to open up and talk about things; she likes knowing that, despite the obstacles and complications they face, they make each other happy. Felicity considers Digg a close friend, and she likes knowing that there is someone to love and support him outside of their little vigilante family.
Felicity wonders again if Digg knows that she and Oliver have taken their relationship out of friend territory. He's not blind, but they've been doing what she considers a good job of keeping their professional and private lives separate, so she won't be surprised if he doesn't know. Maybe he suspects something and just hasn't brought it up - or doesn't care to - because he at least knows that for awhile there she was staying at the mansion. There were also those few days at her old apartment after the second attack when she'd been unable to sleep unless it was on or against Oliver.
That is one thing that hasn't changed in the last month or so: Felicity still has a difficult time sleeping when Oliver isn't around, which is (regrettably) rather often.
Oliver looks tired when he shows up. They go over a few news reports and some of the police dispatches as a team, but she knows she isn't imagining the relief that sweeps through the room when they collectively decided to call it an early night. Sometimes they all just need a little downtime.
Digg is quick to leave and Felicity calls a warm goodnight over her shoulder as she shuts down her computers. She stands as the screens turn themselves off; she's trying to decide if she wants to make some tea and take a bath, or order a pizza and have a few beers - ooh, or maybe some wine - while she catches up on her television shows when a thick arm wraps around her waist. Her heart rate accelerates wildly and her stomach flops and then she can feel the heat and solidarity of Oliver's chest against her back. She's trying her best not to smile, but it's hard when there's nothing but pure exhilaration thrumming through her veins.
Felicity straightens, pressing more fully against that broad chest, and then Oliver is dropping a kiss against the skin of her neck just above her shirt collar. She thinks maybe she should be irritated that this man can turn her insides into puree with such a tiny action, but she enjoys it too much to care.
She is learning, bit by bit, that Oliver is more affectionate than she'd realized - more than he's ever let on. She likes it.
"What are you doing tonight?" he asks quietly.
"I haven't decided yet. I was thinking of ordering pizza and watching t.v."
"Am I invited?"
"Are you bringing wine?" she counters.
He huffs a laugh, his warm breath ghosting over her shoulder and into her hair. He can't be comfortable, but his head is still bent over her shoulder.
"Yes?" It sounds like a question.
"Then you're invited."
He presses a kiss against the skin in front of her ear; she feels the sudden urge to kiss him then, kiss him for real like she only does when they're alone, so she turns in his hold and finds that he has the same thought. They move for each other, her rising up and him leaning down, and then nothing else matters outside of his lips. She's a little shy at first, just a firm press of lips, but then his free hand curls around the curve of her jaw and the tiniest flick of his tongue against her upper lip ignites a fire. She parts her lips, brushes her tongue against his and feels a tingle of elation at the way he pulls her closer; Oliver is gentle, careful, even as the hand that isn't on her face tightens it's hold on her hip.
Felicity pulls away first because, no matter how much she likes their height difference, her shins are burning and her head feels heavy. Well, the head thing might be because Oliver has just literally kissed her breathless; either way, the point still stands.
Oliver is watching her with dark, glittering eyes that make her want to shiver or blush - or both. His thumb strokes the skin of her cheek once, twice, and then he steps away and holds out one of his hands.
"Pizza and wine it is."
Her hand stays wrapped warmly in his until they get to the top of the stairs, when he squeezes it and she leans up to give him another (quick) kiss.
"Half an hour?" he asks, although that doesn't seem like nearly enough time for him to get the mansion and to her place.
"Sure. Pepperoni and pineapple?"
He nods minutely. "And breadsticks."
She smiles and watches him disappear out the door first, silently wondering how fast she can get home without getting arrested.